Tag Archives: Tom Tiffany

Is A Budding Red Rebound Emerging?

By Jim Ellis

May 19, 2020 — Two years ago, several national political prognosticators were predicting a strong Democratic election, i.e., “a blue wave,” by using special election results, mostly from state legislative campaigns, as one of their fundamental support arguments. As we know, the forecast proved correct.

To what degree the special election totals were a precursor is difficult to say, but it is reasonable to believe that real-time results are a better voting trend indicator than publicly released polls, many of which are methodologically flawed. Therefore, it is worth analyzing similar voting patterns as we approach the 2020 election.

North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte)

The victory of Republican Mike Garcia in California last week marked the first congressional special election of this election cycle to flip from one party to the other. Republicans have won five of the six special US House contests, including those of Garcia and Wisconsin state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua), who easily claimed his state’s vacant 7th District, last Tuesday.

The other significant special election occurred late last year. Though Rep. Dan Bishop’s (R-Charlotte) victory in North Carolina came in a seat that historically produced Republican victories, he was certainly considered an underdog at the outset of the special election campaign. He rebounded, however, to score a two-point victory, nonetheless, which in many ways makes it as noteworthy as the Garcia win.

The NC-9 election was necessitated because voter fraud in the 2018 general election prevented the Republican candidate from being certified the winner. After almost a year of keeping the seat vacant, the state’s Board of Elections called a new election that Gov. Roy Cooper (D) scheduled for Sept. 10, 2019.

In the campaign, Bishop was outspent $7.5 million to $2.7 million and that was on top of the $6.1 million Democrat Dan McCready expended in the 2018 general election. Furthermore, Democratic strategists predicted victory in this race because the Charlotte-Fayetteville seat contains a large suburban population, the type of district where their candidates certainly excelled in 2018, and President Trump’s job approval ratings were languishing around the 40 percent mark at the time. All things considered, the Bishop victory should not be characterized as a routine Republican hold.

According to the Ballotpedia election research organization, during the 2018 voting cycle, 197 special state legislative elections were held around the country, 98 of them in 2017, and 99 in 2018. Republicans risked 110 of the seats, substantially higher than the 87 the Democrats were forced to defend. In 2017, Democrats gained a net 11 legislative seats nationally, and eight more in 2018 for a cycle total of 19 net flips (Democrats actually won 26 Republican-held seats, but the GOP took back seven Democratic districts). It was these numbers that largely led the prognosticators to point to changing trends.

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Tiffany Wins in Wisconsin;
Nebraska Primary Nominees Chosen

By Jim Ellis

May 13, 2020 — Wisconsin Republican state Sen. Tom Tiffany, as expected, easily won the special congressional election last night in the Badger State’s northwest 7th District with 57.2 percent of the vote from a huge voter turnout universe of just under 192,000 individuals. The Democratic nominee, Wausau School Board member Tricia Zunker, was a consensus candidate for the special, but she raised less than $500,000 for the race and the national Democratic institution did little to assist her from the outside.

Once the vote tally is finalized, the Wisconsin Elections Commission will certify the result and Tiffany will be sworn into the House of Representatives to complete former congressman Sean Duffy’s (R-Wausau) term. Duffy resigned from office in August of last year for family reasons and the seat has been vacant ever since.

The 7th District occupies 21 central and northwest Wisconsin counties and parts of five others. For more than 40 years, former House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey (D) represented the district. Rep. Duffy won the seat for the first time in 2010 after Obey chose to retire after serving 21 terms in office. Since the 2010 election, the district has moved toward the Republicans, and Tiffany’s victory seems to cement the seat as safe territory for the GOP.

The congressman-elect now will enter the regular 2020 primary scheduled for Aug. 11. The candidate filing deadline is June 1, but it is unlikely he will see much competition in either the primary or general election considering last night’s strong performance.


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Money Report: The Specials

By Jim Ellis

April 21, 2020 — The April 15 deadline for releasing the 1st Quarter 2020 campaign finance reports has come and gone, so we can now begin to assess where some of the key campaigns stand with regard to their fundraising, spending, and available resources. The races headed to special elections are best defined; hence, we begin our series with this group.

Three special general elections will culminate in May and June. On May 12, voters in California and Wisconsin will select new House members. The New York special election follows on June 23.

The California special vote to replace resigned Rep. Katie Hill (D) in the Los Angeles/Ventura County 25th District is between state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) and Republican retired Navy fighter pilot Mike Garcia.

This race looks to be about even across the board, so it may be an interesting precursor for the 2020 general elections. While Smith placed first in the special and regular primaries by relatively substantial margins (11 points in the special; 9 points in the regular), the combined Republican vote among the 13 candidates in the latter election’s jungle format was actually greater than the combined Democratic vote.

In terms of spending according to the just released numbers, Smith expended $1.529 million in the first set of elections as compared to Garcia’s $1.462 million. First quarter fundraising favors Garcia, $277,234 opposite Smith’s $258,972. Garcia also led in cash-on-hand at the end of March, $446,742 to $357,256. Each candidate can also expect at least $1 million coming into the district from party and outside organizations to aid their respective cause.

Regardless of what happens in the special election, both of these candidates have ballot position in the November general election to battle for the regular term beginning in 2021. The special election to fill the balance of the unexpired term is an all-mail exercise scheduled for May 12.

Also on May 12, northwestern Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District vacancy will be filled. In late August, five-term Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) resigned for family reasons and the special election to replace him is just about upon us. In the early April special primary, state senator Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) and Wausau School Board member Tricia Zunker (D) advanced to the special general. The winner will serve the balance of the current term, and at least the future new member will file to compete in the regular election by the June 1 candidate filing deadline. The regular Wisconsin primary is scheduled for Aug. 11.

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Wisconsin: A Precursor?

Wisconsin Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

April 16, 2020 — The April 7th Badger State primary election results were announced this Monday, and former vice president Joe Biden easily defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 63-32 percent, but that’s not the real story behind the final statewide totals.

The bigger race was an ostensibly nonpartisan state Supreme Court judicial election between appointed incumbent Daniel Kelly and Dane County Circuit Court judge Jill Karofsky. Though the Republican and Democratic labels did not appear on the ballot, both parties were heavily invested. And, with much money being spent and both sides “all-in”, many believed it to be a precursor to this year’s presidential campaign in a state that could well become the deciding factor nationally.

Wisconsin Republicans needed the seat to maintain their 5-2 majority on the court, and Democrats wanted to narrow the margin to 4-3 in order to position themselves to take the majority in the next election; hence, this contest’s importance.

Controversy surrounded whether to even hold the election. Democratic insiders and activists were lobbying Gov. Tony Evers (D) to petition the legislature to delay the vote because of the Coronavirus situation. Evers delayed taking action, but finally went to the legislature a week before the vote. The Republican legislative leaders turned Evers down, and subsequent court decisions backed the decision to hold the election on schedule, virtually the only state that was moving forward with an in-person voting mode.

The announced results gave Judge Karofsky a big 55-45 percent upset win, and whether or not this is a precursor to the presidential result remains to be seen. Some believe the fact that the Republican leadership was insisting on moving forward with the election – with people believing they wanted the election as scheduled because they felt the quicker vote favored them – resulted in a voter backlash; hence, Karofsky’s large margin in what was projected to be a much closer electoral contest.

Democrats fought hard to postpone the election and increase the mail-in facet – and most believe they wanted such because they perceived it favored them – but clearly won the election even under the voting structure that the Republicans desired.

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Reviewing the House Vacancies

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2020 — With the COVID-19 virus playing havoc with virtually every aspect of American life, including elections, how are the House vacant seats being affected?

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/Buncombe County) resigned from Congress Monday night to become White House Chief of Staff, which brings the total number of vacancies to a half-dozen. Special elections are scheduled in four of those, with three to be decided on or before May 12.

Originally, the special elections in Maryland and New York were supposed to be the first to go to the voters, but the COVID-19 precautions changed the date of the New York election and the voting system in Maryland. Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who easily won the crowded Democratic primary on Feb. 7, will win the special general on April 28 but the process now becomes all-mail. The Republican nominee is event planner Ken Klacik, but this Baltimore city district and surrounding area will easily remain in Democratic hands. We can expect Mfume to break 75 percent of the vote.

The former congressman was elected to five terms in the House beginning with the 1986 election. He resigned to become president and CEO of the NAACP in 1996. Mfume served in that position until running unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2006, losing the Democratic primary to then-congressman, Ben Cardin. Then-state Delegate Elijah Cummings replaced Mfume in the House at that time and served until his death in October. Now, ironically, Mfume returns to replace the late Rep. Cummings.

California’s 25th District, which begins in the state’s Simi Valley and stretches to the Palmdale area, potentially features the hottest of the current special elections. Rep. Katie Hill (D) resigned the seat because of a sexual scandal leading to a multi-candidate concurrent special and regular election.

Democratic state Assemblywoman Christy Smith topped the field on March 3, and she advances to the special election runoff on May 12 with Iraq War fighter pilot Mike Garcia (R). The latter individual placed ahead of, and eliminated, former US Rep. Steve Knight (R) who was attempting a political comeback after losing to Hill in 2018. Polling is projecting a tight finish. Regardless of what happens on May 12, both Smith and Garcia are advancing to the regular general election to battle for the full term beginning in 2021. The May 12 winner is immediately sworn into the House and serves the remaining part of the current congressional session.

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